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15 June 2011
Fibre-to-the-home is creating mini-boom in the market for optical fibre, if comments from Corning are anything to go by.  The US fibre maker says it is struggling to keep up with demand.  “We’re actually sold out in fibre right now,” Corning’s chief financial officer Jim Flaws told the Reuter’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications Summit recently.
Interestingly, Verizon is cited as one of the principal reasons for the shortfall. The telco has ordered 20% more fibre than Corning anticipated, even though its FiOS network is no longer being rolled out in new areas.  Optical fibre is needed to connect new customers as they sign up for services, however, suggesting that Verizon’s FiOS customer base has been growing strongly.  According to its most recent financial report, Verizon added 207,000 new FiOS Internet connections and 192,000 new FiOS TV connections in the first quarter of 2011.
Reuters also reports that Corning is seeing increased activity in Japan following the earthquake and in Australia where the National Broadband Network (NBN) deployment is getting underway.
Still, this isn’t quite a return to the heady days of the 2000 telecoms bubble.  At the time, Corning was operating five factories, but had to close down production in four of them, with one factory kept on standby in case demand should improve.  Today, that second fibre-optic factory is ramping up its production capacity to address the shortfall.
By Pauline Rigby